Ultralight racing machines built of space-age materials grab most of the headlines in the sailing press these days. Yet there's still no shortage of romantics whose hearts soar at the prospect of sailing aboard a relic of olden times, built of traditional materials like iron and oak - especially one with a prestigious pedigree like Captain's Cook's HM Bark Endeavour.
Capitalizing on the fact that many modern sailors and 'lubbers alike seem to have been born with a 'nostalgia gene' that shifts into overdrive at the sight of such vessels, a determined group of Australians painstakingly constructed a faithful replica of Cook's famous ship, and have now sent her on a an around-the-world goodwill voyage. Launched in 1994, the new Endeavour will make port calls along the Pacific Coast this spring, arriving in the Bay June 11. Built to exacting details, she is regarded by British National Maritime Museum historians as the most accurately reproduced replica ever built. While at sea, her professional crew teaches 18th Century sailing techniques to (paying) 'voyage crew' members who sign on for individual legs. She then functions as a museum ship while in port.
To refresh your information-overloaded
memory, Captain Cook was, of course, one of the greatest explorers
of the Age of Discovery. An experienced British naval surveyor
and navigator with a penchant for science and mathematics, at
40, he was given command of the original Endeavor in 1768. Sailing
on behalf of the King and the London Royal Society, the first
part of his mission was to pilot Endeavour from England, around
Cape Horn to Tahiti, where his scientific team would observe
important astrological phenomena. Most sciences were anything
but exact in those days, and European scholars were thirsty for
new information. Back then, for example, navigation was done
without even the aid of a chronometer.
It is his first voyage, however,
that naturally endears all Australians and New Zealanders to
Cook. So it's no surprise that despite earlier failed attempts
to build authentic Endeavour replicas, Australia's National Maritime
Museum actively promoted the idea during the heady days preceding
their national bicentennial. Sailor/businessman Alan Bond - of
'83 A-Cup fame - soon took up the challenge, offering to fund
the ambitious project in grand style. Endeavour's keel was laid
in the Bicentennial Year of 1988, in a Fremantle shipyard with
a specially-designed gallery so passersby could observe the progress
day by day. When Bond went bust two years later, however, work
temporarily came to a halt. But eventually the non-profit HM
Bark Endeavour Foundation was established, funded by corporate,
governmental and private sources.
This month, Endeavour sails northbound for San Diego from Cabo San Lucas (January 25), followed by five short coastal hops prior to entering San Francisco Bay June 11 (Newport Beach, Oxnard, Ventura, Morro Bay and Monterey). Yes, the wind does blow from the wrong directing along our coast, but as a Foundation rep said, "We sail on every leg - even if we have to first motorsail to seaward in order to find a favorable wind angle." At each port stop, informational dockside displays and signboards emerge from the hold and the ship's interior is transformed into a living museum. Between June 12 and 20 the ship will be on public display in the Bay Area (at locations yet to be announced). In addition to simply viewing the vessel, members of the public are invited to serve as volunteer guides at each port o' call. While Endeavour's visit has no affiliation with the Mervyn's Gold Rush Race, which is expected to bring 30 or more tall ships to the Bay on July 4, the arrival of this historic craft will certainly serve as an impressive and well-timed 'opening act'. From the Bay, Endeavour will continue north to Vancouver, B.C., then return home to Australia via Hawaii, Tahiti and New Zealand.
At this writing, there is still
availability on most voyage legs. For more information on crewing
or volunteering, call: (619) 223-9477;
© 1999 Latitude 38